Pompey new-boy Craddock pinpointed as natural goalscorer

Pompey new-boy Tom Craddock
Pompey new-boy Tom Craddock
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

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We get the lowdown on Tom Craddock from the Oxford Mail’s David Pritchard.

Tom Craddock

AGE: 26


PREVIOUS CLUBS: Oxford, Luton, Hartlepool (loan), Wrexham (loan), Middlesbrough

· Hi David, what can you tell us about Tom Craddock then?

I think he is a natural scorer – probably the best finisher Oxford have had for a good few years.

Fellow striker James Constable tends to need a few chances, although is a bit more of a physical presence.

But at League Two level Craddock’s finishing is very good.

He’s also got a really good first touch.

Having come through Middlesbrough’s ranks, you can tell those flashes of quality and he can drift into spaces where he has picked up a lot of goals.

With Craddock it is about being in he right place at the right time.

· So were you surprised when he left Oxford this summer?

I don’t think anyone was that shocked when he was released – it felt like a natural time for both parties to move on.

Probably, if he is honest, he got a bit stale.

But there was never any doubt he wouldn’t find a decent club to go to.

He had three years at Oxford, although it is really two-and-a-half years after long spells out through injury in the 2011-12 campaign.

It was time to go, though.

He can be a bit inconsistent and, when not on his game, can be a little anonymous.

Having said that, I think Craddock’s a decent signing if you can get the best out of him.

· What do you think his best role is?

Craddock reached double figures for goals by the start of November last season, but when the manager changed the playing system in late February he didn’t really get much of a look in.

He decided to go with Deane Smalley up front on his own, with Alfie Potter increasingly as the playmaker in behind.

That formation didn’t suit Craddock.

Oxford won at Gillingham in the first match it was tried and then beat Port Vale – two sides later promoted.

When Constable came back from injury, he played that lone role instead.

Craddock works best with a target man alongside him.

· What can Pompey fans expect from him then next season?

Firstly, he needs to find consistency.

Everyone would want a Tom Craddock in form week-in, week-out in their side.

If you give him a bit of licence to find space, that is probably when he is at his most effective.

He needs to change his body language, though.

He can appear quite languid and, if it’s not going his way, can look like he doesn’t care at times – but he does.